22nd May 2018
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Strachan and Gifford in pole position after impressive qualification

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Medal hopes are high among Team Shetland’s swimmers ahead of the first set of finals in the 2013 Island Games tonight.

Past gold medallist Andrea Strachan was the fastest swimmer in the 50m breaststroke heats on the opening day of swimming, taking nearly a second off her own Island Games record in the process.

Andrea Strachan posted the fastest qualifying time. Photo: Kevin Jones

Andrea Strachan posted the fastest qualifying time. Photo: Kevin Jones

Felix Gifford was four seconds ahead of the pack in the men’s 200m butterfly, and was comfortably the fastest qualifier in the 200m individual medley event too.

Callum MacGregor, Donnie Price and Amy Harper also clocked competitive times at the National Sports Centre pool in Bermuda on Monday morning.

20-year-old Andrea posted a time of 31.59 seconds in the breaststroke. That was significantly quicker than the 32.57 seconds it took her to win gold in the Isle of Wight two years ago, but still short of her own personal best of 30.92 seconds.

The same heat saw Bermudan swimmer Lisa Blackburn, 41, post the third-fastest time despite being more than double the age of the next-youngest competitor.

Another past medal winner for Team Shetland, Harper, was sixth fastest in the women’s 200m freestyle heats. Her time of 2:08.84 was a few seconds off her own PB, but left her less than three seconds off the third-fastest time going into tonight’s finals.

She told The Shetland Times: “The pool itself is really nice, the water is cool so you get a big shock when you dive in – but it’s a good shock as it’s boiling outside. [There’s] not as many spectators as previous years, but [it’s] really good having so many officials from Shetland on poolside.”

Amy Harper will compete in tonight's 200m freestyle final. Photo: Kevin Jones

Amy Harper will compete in tonight’s 200m freestyle final. Photo: Kevin Jones

Gifford is in pole position ahead of the 200m butterfly final. His time of 2:04.37 was nearly four seconds faster than second-placed Ben Lowndes of Guernsey. MacGregor followed in fifth with a time of 2:09.46, a second or so off the top three.

The 200m individual medley event also saw Gifford swim fastest in 2:07.51, a clear three seconds faster than Guernsey’s Jeremy Osborne. Team-mate Donnie Price was sixth fastest qualifier in 2:12.73, less than a second off third-fastest Jersey swimmer Ian Black.

The men’s 100m breaststroke saw Jake Swanson and Price clock the sixth and eighth fastest times respectively: Swanson completed the distance in 1:06.48 and Price in 1:08.50. In the 50m backstroke Swanson posted a time of 28.59 seconds, placing him seventh in the heats.

Tonight’s finals kick off at 5.30pm Bermuda time – 9.30pm in this country.

About Neil Riddell

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